• Bandits attacked church on March 21, kidnapped five persons, says Hayab
• Buhari orders service chiefs to identify, take out sponsors of bandits
The Christian Association of Nigeria, Kaduna State chapter, has said no fewer than 100 residents of the state are in different kidnap camps.
The state CAN Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said aside from the 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka and the eight members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, whose kidnaps were public knowledge, many abductees were still with their abductors in the state.
Hayab also said other residents of the state were living in constant fear of being kidnapped.
As the CAN chairman expressed concern about insecurity in the state, bandits again struck on Tuesday and abducted a Catholic priest and four other persons in the Kagarko Local Government Area.
In Oyo State, a man and a couple were abducted at different times on their farms near Alabameji Village, Sanyo and Soka areas of Ibadan.
In Niger State, a businessman, Salau Taiwo Hussein, was said to have been whisked away by unknown gunmen at his resident around Brighter Road in Minna.
As the gale of kidnappings continued to sweep across the country, the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd.), told State House correspondents on Tuesday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had ordered security chiefs to fish out masterminds of banditry in the country.
He also said the military should take the sponsors of banditry out.
Earlier, Hayab, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the kidnappings of the students and the RCCG members became public knowledge because of the people involved.
According to him, five worshippers, including a pastor and church secretary, were recently abducted in the Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Kaduna State CAN chairman faulted the state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, over the handling of kidnappings and other forms of insecurity in the state.
Hayab stated, “We want him (El-Rufai) to act decisively and take the right action. But as he is talking, nothing is being done and they (bandits) are negotiating with people.
“It is not just the RCCG members and the 39 students that are still there (with bandits). If we want to take statistics of the number of people in different kidnap camps in Kaduna, they are over 100. But the ones people know are the students and the RCCG members.
“Even that day, it was not only the RCCG members that were kidnapped. The attack also involved other people. The church could tell us the number of people travelling and that was why we knew they were eight. But how many were in the other vehicle, nobody knows.
“I still have reports of other families whose members were taken. In one of our churches in the Giwa Local Government Area, which is after Zaria, on Sunday, March 21, around 1am, the bandits picked five people. They later released three, but the pastor and his secretary are still with them. But out there in the public, you’ll hear, ‘We are working.’ That is why the new style of government is issuing media statements to show they are working, while people are being killed and taken away from their homes.”
Hayab said the N50m ransom being demanded for the release of the RCCG members was unrealistic, adding that the church would never pay the money.
The cleric said paying bandits would only encourage them to kidnap more people and the church might be digging its own grave if it paid ransoms.
He lamented that most of the people kidnapped were locals who had lost a sense of purpose due to the insecurity in the state.
The CAN chairman urged security agencies to rise to their responsibilities, rescue the victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Since this whole madness continued these past four, five, six years, people are no longer productive. Farmers are no longer going to their farms, even at home, you cannot think straight because you don’t know what will happen. If you travel, your mind is not at rest. Your heart is in your hand because you are thinking you may be kidnapped before you arrive at your destination. This is why our government must do what is right. We must not allow these people to continue to torment and trouble Nigerians,” he added.
Efforts to get the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, to react to the CAN chairman’s statement did not succeed as he had yet to respond to a WhatsApp message sent to his telephone as of the time of sending this report.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Kaduna, Alao Joseph, said he believed the church members would soon be released.
He told The PUNCH that efforts were being made to ensure their safe return.
Bandits kidnap Kaduna Catholic priest, others
A Catholic priest in Kushe Makaranta in the Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Rev. Fr. Anthony Dawa, has been kidnapped.
It was gathered that Dawa was reported to have been abducted along with a catechist as well as the catechist’s wife when gunmen attacked their house at 2am on Tuesday.
It was learnt that apart from the wife of the catechist, their child and a domestic worker were among those abducted.
The church is located at Dogon Kurmi in the Kagarko Local Government Area of the state. The Kaduna State Police the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Jalige could not be reached as repeated calls were not picked.
Also, there was no response to a text message sent to his telephone as of the time of filing this report by our correspondent.
However, Communication Director of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, Rev. Father Stephen Onyema, confirmed the incident.
Also, the state Chairman of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, confirmed the incident.
He said, “The incident is confirmed. Those people struck at 2am in Kushe Makaranta, under Kagarko, which is in Southern Kaduna.”
Buhari orders service chiefs to take out bandits, kidnappers
Also Tuesday, Monguno quoted the President as directing the nation’s service chiefs to identify masterminds of banditry and kidnappings with a view to taking them out.
The NSA, in an interview with the State House correspondents, said Buhari handed down the directive at a meeting he had with the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja before he embarked on his trip to London for routine check-up.
Monguno quoted the President as saying that a situation where the armed forces were reactionary rather than being proactive would no longer be tolerated.
He said, “On the issues of kidnapping and banditry, this menace still persists, especially in the North-West and the North-Central zones.
“Mr President has been very emphatic. He has stated clearly that this problem must be brought to an end, but using the traditional methods that the armed forces have been trained to deploy.
“Mr President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that the first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits, kidnappers and take them out, in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation whereby bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tone and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reactionary rather than being proactive.
“He has also indicated his willingness to provide all the resources required by our own troops in order to put down these criminals. They must be brought down with all the ruthlessness that is required and whoever is working in collaboration with them will be brought to book.”
Monguno explained that Buhari decided to summon the emergency meeting with the security chiefs after separate meetings that he had with governors from the North-West and the North-Central as well as the one he had with the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, on security challenges.
He said the reports Buhari had received from service chiefs following their recent appointment exposed the need for him to look deeper into certain aspects that needed to be taken care of.
He added, “The President has also declared that there will be no adjustment in whatever the National Security Council has already laid out until normalcy is restored.
“He is also aware of attempts by certain elements, working in cahoots with all kinds of people in and out of the country to continue to exploit the minefields, especially in Zamfara State.
“A ban has been placed on mining and that ban has to be enforced. People have to comply with whatever the President has laid out. Of course, we, in the intelligence domain are aware that there are individuals and groups who are planning to link up with all kinds of non-state actors in order to frustrate the efforts of government in implementing the ban on mining, as well as enforcing the no-fly-zone so that no rotary aircraft will land, drop whatever and pick up whatever. That has to be enforced.
“This is the directive from the President. I am to send a warning to those people who think they are in close proximity with those who have the instruments to make the space easy for criminals. It is extremely important for these people. I am sending out a message to them, anybody who thinks he can continue to pull whatever resources he has at his disposal, to frustrate the efforts of the central government in bringing about peace and security will have himself to blame.
“The new service chiefs, as well as the intelligence community, and the constabulary forces have been given clear directives by the President to target those people who are the ones leading in creating chaos, disunity, and disharmony.”
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, also in an interview with reporters, assured Nigerians that insurgency would soon be brought to an end.
Irabor said it was natural that when situation is getting to an end, it would first appear to be getting tougher.
But a Security Risk Management and Intelligence Specialist, Kabir Adamu, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the service chiefs should have been given timelines within which to meet specific objectives and operational requirements.
He noted that Buhari’s meeting with the service chiefs was not the proper channel to give them marching orders, noting that this should have been done through the National Security Council meeting where other members could cross-examine claims made by the security chiefs. ,,